Ian Thorpe, an Australian hero

A Well Known Aussie Overcomes Depression

Elite Athlete Overcomes Depression

Most people will have heard of Ian Thorpe, who represented Australia an internationally recognized Olympic swimmer.

Striving to be the best you can be
Striving to be the best you can be

Sink or Swim

By age 24 Thorpie had already broken 22 world records in swimming. He was an Aussie Hero, loved and revered by all. You would think someone so young with so much going for him would be on top of everything emotionally. He was the most successful Australian Olympian ever but nobody knew or suspected that under that smile as he accepted his medals was lurking a pain that almost had him take his own life.

Even as a teenager Ian Thorpe had battled mental health issues and was struggling to determine his own sense of worth and identity despite all the accolades and attention he was getting. During his peak time as an elite athlete no one would have guessed that our Thorpie could be dealing with depression. He is right out there in the public eye. He is soaking up the attention and he deserved every bit of it having put in up to 40 hours a week in training but underneath he is dealing with serious mental illness.

Ian Thorpe, our Ian Thorpe, our star our hero was struggling with real issues just like anyone else. Apart from  the depression he was struggling to come to terms with and open up about the fact he was gay. It was like it was all too perfect and I would think that alone would make it harder to open up to the world on two fronts, one that he was depressed and two that he was gay. He tried to drown out his inner workings with alcohol and medications and he even contemplated taking his own life.

Ian Thorpe, an Australian hero
Ian Thorpe, an Australian hero fought depression

It just goes to show that just because someone appears to have everything together that they are not desperately trying to cope with the realities of life like anybody else. The fact is it is probably harder for them as they have to keep up this public facade with a whole lot going on deep inside.

Ian Thorpe is not the only public figure or elite athlete to overcome depression and turn his life around. But for the purpose of this post we will focus on Thorpie. Ian Thorpe began his rise to hero status as a young teenager winning schoolboy swimming events. He grew in confidence as a swimmer and also as a speaker as he had several occasions when he had to respond to the recognition as he received trophy upon trophy for his achievements.

Nobody would have guessed that this young rising star could be struggling so much with mental illness.

His depression started during his teenage years but got worse after he retired from swimming competitively and tried to reinvent himself . It was around the same time that he declared that he was gay. His depression got so bad that he was admitted to a rehabilitation clinic to work through the issues he was facing.

Following his recovery and finding his own self awareness Thorpie took up another pursuit. He had to rediscover life for him outside of the pool and so became active in advocating for causes such as mental health, gay rights and indigenous issues.

Thorpie With A New Purpose

Thorpie worked brilliantly on an ABC television program to reduce bullying in schools and to create awareness of the extent of the problem.. The program “bullied” went into several schools where bullying was known to be a problem and with a hidden camera was able to reveal to the world what was happening and how it affected the young people involved. It is bullying in our schools and streets and work places which can trigger depression in the victims. Thorpie no doubt knew that as he possibly faced his own share of bullying as he grew up and struggled with his identifying as gay.

He was able to mask the issues going on his life by being so successful in the pool. He threw himself into training and determined to succeed, to be the best he could be. In his words ” “You choose to be the change in the world that you wish to see.”

Thorpie is now working to help others make changes in the way they do business. He has learned well as an elite athlete that you have to put in the hours, be disciplined and persistent. It was easy and natural for him to translate those same attributes and the mindset of a winner to the business world.

Below is a video interview where Ian shares his struggle with depression and his acknowledgment of being gay

Share Your Story

If you have  a story to tell about a personal struggle with depression  and you have overcome, then please share it here. You never know who might be helped  to deal with and overcome their illness by reading your account.  It may even save a life.  If you do not wish to be identified just use an alias or initials. We would love to hear your story.

If you know someone who is struggling with depression ad you have found some helpful information in this website then please think about sharing it with them. We can all help each other to make the world a happier place to be.

 

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Comments

    • Seun Afotanju
    • January 15, 2019
    Reply

    Depression is indeed real, I have faced depression so many times it was a tough one,  my case was the fact that I was in the University and I couldn’t pay my tuition fee, but I didn’t let it stop me from achieving what I wanted so bad which was my degree. one thing Is no matter the circumstances we shouldn’t let it define us. Thanks for the motivational post. 

      • admin
      • January 16, 2019
      Reply

      Thank you for your response and your willingness to share your own story.  It is a struggle for so many and lack of finances to do what we really want to do can be a trigger which in some cases will allow depression to take root. You had a great attitude and you confronted it head on. Well done. 

    • Matt's Mom
    • January 15, 2019
    Reply

    Yep, I know all too well. I am normally (until very recently) an upbeat and positive person.  As a matter of fact, I never understood depression or how someone could let it get out of hand and just fall into that depression hole.  I recently had  two major health issues that did just that to me.  I have since learned to overcome my depression and work towards accepting things I cannot control and embracing the good things in my life.  It definitely takes a will power to overcome depression.  But I do believe anyone can do it.  

      • admin
      • January 16, 2019
      Reply

      Thank you Matts Mom for taking time to read and share. Good on you for overcoming your personal battle with depression and for sharing it with us. I just pray that you can maintain that positive attitude, and keep it in it place, that is under your feet.  You reminded me of the Serenity prayer : God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change , courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference. 

    • Chrissie Spurgeon
    • January 15, 2019
    Reply

    This is a great story about how someone who appeared to have everything still had a tremendous mountain to climb.

    Depression can hit anyone at any time, and can virtually destroy lives. So anyone who is sadly in that position should be able to draw great encouragement from the way that Ian Thorpe managed to overcome his “black dog” of depression and come out even stronger on the other side.

    Such a brave story can only give encouragement and hope to people going through depression now, and give them too the courage to realise that they can overcome it and life can be great again.

    Very many thanks for such an inspiring post.

    Chrissie 🙂

      • admin
      • January 16, 2019
      Reply

      Thank you Chrissie for your response. Ian Thorpe is certainly an inspiration and there are many others like him . I plan to share more stories to encourage people suffering depression to at least talk about it and begin the process to wholeness and healing. You are right it can and does hit anyone from the secretary in an office to a high ranking film star, nobody is exempt. Like any illness it just needs the right triggers or set of circumstances to take hold.

    • Nuttanee
    • January 15, 2019
    Reply

    Depression and stress is something that I am dealing with daily. I am my own worst enemy and critic. Even though, I am not Thrope but I can relate to him. Other people assume that I have a great life and career, but they are not the answer to true happiness. 

    There were times in my life where I self medicated and was admitted to the hospital because I couldn’t handle and cope with all the problems that I have. I read Jim Carrey quote the other day which he described depression so perfect. He compares depression to the rain. When it rains it rains when it doesn’t it doesn’t. Before he would let the rain drown him but how he won’t let that happen anymore. To me, it is just a perfect analogy, it is something that just happens, it is part of me and I cannot control it.

    I find that support system is important. You have to be opened about your depression. It is important to let other people aware that you are struggling with it and it is fine to be this way. Masking your depression can result in a disastrous consequences. With time, I learned how to cope with it, it is still hard but slowly I am much better than I was before.

    Will share this excellent posts to my friends, you never know when someone is struggling.

    Take care

    Ps. I find CBD oil helps and also chamomile tea. 😉

      • admin
      • January 16, 2019
      Reply

      Thank you so much for your very open and honest response . I am sorry you have been struggling with depression. . It is , it seems a modern day scourge as so many people are trying to deal with some kind of mental illness. I am wondering if it may also be a sign of spiritual malnutrition in some cases. We are physical, emotional and spiritual beings and we need to take care of every aspect  for optimum health.  I also feel people have become very disconnected because of social media. They chat online but not so much face to face.  These are just questions in my mind as to why so many are suffering in a world where we have so much going for us. 

      Thank you for sharing the tips about CBD and chamomile. I know we have all the resources to deal with depression and all other mental illness.  see  https://herbsfromheaven.com/

    • GVporras
    • January 15, 2019
    Reply

    Hopefully after more  people read your article realize that they can overcome depression by looking for help and stop worrying what other people are gonna say. I’m so glad Ian Thorpe is doing all this to help people that are in the same situation that he was before, a great example.

    I always tell my kids to tell me if they have a problem or someone is bothered then, hopefully one day we can stop the problem of bullying.

    Thank you for sharing this great article 

      • admin
      • January 20, 2019
      Reply

      Thank you for your response to the Ian Thorpe article. I think you are really wise talking to your kids the way you because when they get older it wont be so easy if you have not established a strong rapport with them when they are young. Bullying is a big problem in schools and workplaces everywhere.

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